Sunday, October 23, 2011

Goodbye Viaduct

This last Saturday, WSDOT opened up the viaduct for one last hurrah before shutting it down for the first part of demolition. Between the hours of 9:30 and 12:30, anyone could come down and walk up and on the viaduct and being a bit of a transit nut, I decided to go down and look at the structure from a new perspective (as well as claim my chunk of the viaduct). It was an appropriately wet Seattle day, but even with that over 3,000 people turned out to say goodbye.

The viaduct may be an ugly, 1950 concrete wall on the Seattle waterfront, but what everyone came out for is this: The view. On a nice day, driving on the viaduct is the best introduction you can give a person to Seattle. On the right, a close up of the city and on the left the ferries, Olympic mountains, and the Sound. In terms of a comprehensive, easy to access, and beautiful scenic drive this is about is good as you can get in the city itself.

After the break, more photos from the event, including the people, their goodbye notes, and the structure itself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

McDonald's Around the World: Stockholm

I like McDonald's. I don't think that the food is great or that the service is top notch, but what I do like is that what we take to be something that is standardized around the world simply isn't. A Big Mac is a Big Mac, except when it isn't. For example, how do you offer a Big Mac when cows are holy and beef is taboo? You make it the Chicken Maharaja Mac (complete with two all chicken patties and tikka masala sauce). I haven't tried that yet, but I'm looking forward to it when I make it to India.

However, today my focus is the frozen north of Stockholm. Given that Sweden doesn't have any dietary restrictions, the menu is fairly similar, but even then local cultural opinions show through. Take a look:

The standard menu is pretty familiar. The classics are all there. The McFeast is essentially a quarter pounder with lettuce and tomato, while the CBO is actually one of their rotating sandwiches. More so than in the US, McDonald's in Sweden likes to swap out sandwiches rather frequently. Some of them are specific to Sweden, while other burgers (like the 1955 below) I've seen in other places, like Germany. 

Some of the  rotating menu is below. The hot wings and cream cheese stars aren't always there. 

After the break, it's a virtual cornucopia of McDonald's. We've got the menu signs for the Happy Meals, the night menu, and the breakfast menu, plus the McToast. Read on for McDonald's, svensk stil. 

Friday, October 07, 2011

Food Fridays: Stockholm Sampler (Saturnus Cafe, Pelikan, and Soldaten Svejk)

Not many of my posts involve Stockholm, and even fewer involve the restaurants here. The main reason is that eating out here is obscenely expensive and many of the restaurants are only so-so, which makes picking the wrong one a $40-50 mistake. You learn quickly to be very skeptical about places...

...but today I'm going to break that tradition and share a sampler of bites from Stockholm!

Saturnus Cafe: Tucked just north of the busiest part of Stockholm near Stureplan, Saturnus cafe is well known for its immense kanelbullar (cinnamon buns), but also offers up a range of French inspired bites, including the prosciutto, mozzarella and pesto sandwich. The cafe is small and cozy, although it can get very busy and crowded very quickly.

Pelikan: Located on Södermalm, the pelikan restaurant offers up a variety of Swedish dishes at prices that are fairly reasonable ($25+) in the Stockholm context. Their Swedish meatballs, pictured here, are very tasty and match the atmosphere of the restaurant, which evokes the a past era. The restaurant itself is a great space to dine in.

Soldaten Svejk: A noisy Czech pub located near Medborgare platsen is also home to some of the best priced meals in Stockholm. The most expensive item on the menu is about 133kr ($21), which is the price of an appetizer in many other places. Eating in will get you a table almost immediately, but if you're just there for beer (and they have a nice selection of Czech beer) you'll be in for a hunt to find a place to stand. Great food and beer is slightly offset by how loud it gets in the bar. If you're looking for a quiet place to talk with friends, this is not it, but if you're out for a hearty meal and celebration this is the perfect spot. 

"Raggmunk" (Potato pancake) and Bacon, with lingon berries. Fantastic!

Pragerschnitzel covering up a potato salad and some saurkraut. Traditional and tasty.

Monday, October 03, 2011

First Kindle (2011) Reviews are Starting to Appear!

The first reviews of the new $79 Kindle are starting to appear. The Kindle Touch hasn't been released yet, which is what I think most people are waiting for (or the Kindle Fire), but the first and least expensive kindle is out and has been combed over by the people over at Engadget.

The new Kindle looks like it's a great basic reader and at $79, it's a really inexpensive device, but the choice to scrap the keyboard in favor of size and leaving out the killer new features found on the Kindle Touch like X-Ray make me wonder if this is the right way to go. For $20 more, the Kindle Touch gets you everything the basic Kindle offers and a more.

Update: Gizmodo now has their review up, with more of the same but slightly less enthusiastic. Their basic conclusion is to wai for the Kindle Touch as well, with a 3/5 rate.

via Engadget
via Gizmodo

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Flight Report: Ulaanbaatar to Stockholm (Across Russia, Finale)

It's been more than 3,500 miles by train, plane, and bus from St. Petersburg, across Russia and finally over to Ulaanbaatar. It's been a great trip and now we have to head back to make sure that my mom can catch her flight back to the US.

For this flight, we've gone with Aeroflot. It's not part of my usual alliance and it's reputation is less than sterling, but how would they stack up today? Not that great, unfortunately. From a technical side, Aeroflot has shaken off the older Soviet planes, with the majority of it's fleet being newer airbus planes. In our case, we got an older Boeing 767 and a massive delay. More than 4 hours on the ground with zero explanation.

Lifting off, we're on our way out of Asia and back to Moscow before heading on to Stockholm. With such a late departure, we're going to misconnect in Moscow without a doubt. Will we make it back? What's the in-flight meal like? All this and more photos after the break.